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Patriots look to finish strong against division rival Jets

Patriots: New England Nation
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FOXBORO, Mass. (WPRI) — The New England Patriots are treating their Week 17 matchup with the New York Jets like a playoff game.

For Head Coach Bill Belichick and the team, a win in the regular season finale assures the Patriots at least the no. 2 seed and a first-round bye heading into the playoffs.

Wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson is inactive for today’s game, leaving Tom Brady and the offense short-handed.

But so far that doesn’t seem to have slowed them down: the Pats opened the scoring in the first quarter with a 59-yard drive culminating in a 17-yard touchdown pass to James White.

The Jets clawed back a field goal before Brady found Rex Burkhead for an 18-yard touchdown toss later in the first quarter.

In the second, Brady connected with Philip Dorsett after the Jets fumbled deep in their own territory, making it 21-3. It stayed that way until the teams went to the locker room.

Should the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers both lose and the Patriots win, then New England would slide up to the no. 1 seed and have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

If the Patriots lose to the Jets and the Houston Texans beat the Jacksonville Jaguars, New England would finish in third place and host a playoff game the first weekend of January.

Kickoff for Sunday’s game is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Gillette Stadium.

With that being said, here are some notes and quotes from this week to prepare you for Patriots and Jets:

Notes:

  • If the Patriots win, they clinch a first-round bye. In the Bill Belichick era, the Patriots have never reached the Super Bowl in a season in which they didn’t have a first-round bye.
  • With 119 rushing yards, Sony Michel will become the first Patriots running back to reach 1,000 yards in his rookie season since Robert Edwards in 1998.
  • Tom Brady is the only quarterback in NFL history more than 20 wins against three different teams including the New York Jets.

Quotes:

Bill Belichick’s thoughts on facing the Jets: “Looking forward to a big matchup this week against New York, and certainly been impressive to watch since we played them. You know, [Sam] Darnold’s really played well. He’s got an excellent group of receivers, tight ends, backs to work with. Obviously, [Andre] Roberts leading the league in both punt and kickoff returns. He’s had an explosive year and did it again against the Packers last week. Defensively, again, a well-coached team, create a lot of problems with their pressure. The corners done a good job for them, good front, good front seven. So, this will be a big challenge for us. We’ll have to play better than we did in the last game. They’re definitely better than they were when we saw them, whatever it was, six weeks ago. So, it will be our challenge to improve and match up.”

James White on playing this week’s game with the mentality of a playoff game: “Definitely. It’s a one-game season. We’ve got to play our best football this week. It’s always tough when we play these guys, home or away. They’re going to come in ready to play no matter what their record is. We’ve just got to play our best football which we haven’t done yet, which I’ve said a lot this year. I think we all know that we can play better in general and maybe that’s enough motivation for us to go out there and play our best.”

Patrick Chung on facing Jets rookie quarterback Sam Darnold for the first time: “He’s gotten better. It seems like he’s calmed down a little bit. He’s making the right throws, he’s making good decisions, he’s doing it really fast and he’s athletic enough to make plays. I mean, he’s definitely come along. It seems like he’s grown up a little bit – not saying grown up in like a bad way, but he’s playing pro football, playing like a good quarterback.”

Remember – the game’s on 12! Prior to kickoff, be sure to join us for New England Nation at 11:30 a.m. on Fox Providence. We’ll get you ready for the game with insight, analysis, interviews and more!

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